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April 26, 2017

Brian Kelly

Greensboro, North Carolina

BRIAN KELLY: Well, certainly, like most, we're pleased that we made progress here over the last three months, culminating with our spring game. Progress identified by the physical, certainly in the weight room, on the field, certainly getting an opportunity to develop the skill of our players, in particular introducing a new quarterback into the mix with Brandon Wimbush, and then obviously you're developing the mental aspect of the game, as well, and you're asking your guys to push through some early-morning conditioning and you're adding stress and fatigue, and they've got to develop a grit to them.

I think all of those three things came together well for us. We're injury-free, had some post cleanup surgeries that went well and poised to give the guys some time off here after they finish up exams and get into our summer conditioning.

Q. Talk about the spring practice. I was watching it last week. Talk about Wimbush's development during the spring. He looked good last week.
BRIAN KELLY: Yeah, you know, I really like his emotional stability in the sense that he doesn't get too high, doesn't get too low, plays very consistent. He's got a lot to learn. He's learning every day. But he's a great student of the game in the sense that he wants to learn every day. He's very coachable. The guys really like his leadership style. He's very engaging.

It was fun to coach a guy like that because you know he wants to come back in and learn and get better every day. A good spring for him and a good spring game.

Q. And talk about your team; I know last year 3-9. Did the players come into spring practice ready to get over that season, get it behind them?
BRIAN KELLY: Oh, absolutely. The standard that we set after a 4-8 season is much higher than that. It's a bar that we did not reach, so they were highly motivated, and we made some significant changes in the off-season, and I think our guys are really getting what it takes to get back to where we need to be.

Q. I just wanted to ask you, every spring there are a new crop of guys to keep an eye on, either redshirts or guys that have played backup roles that are going to move. Can you give us about two or three guys that jumped out at you that maybe haven't played large roles in the past but look like they will going forward?
BRIAN KELLY: Offensively, Tony Jones at running back will be a guy that plays a significant role for us offensively. Defensively, Daelin Hayes, who played sparingly really for us last year, but will play a significant role for us. I think those two guys stand out. I think if you continue to look at other guys that are going to be significant for us, right tackle, Tommy Kraemer, will go in there and play a significant role for us, and I think from a defensive standpoint, I think you're going to see a guy like Jay Hayes, who's a junior, but who's been playing sparingly, has had a great off-season for us. Those four guys stand out and had really good springs.

Q. I was also interested, it's been going on a while, but it's getting more and more prevalent, the idea of guys enrolling in mid-season, freshmen coming in and going through spring practice. I know a lot of those guys don't have a huge impact right away, but for their careers, is it a big advantage to come in early and get started a semester early?
BRIAN KELLY: Well, for us, it's our opportunity to -- and in a manner to be redshirted. We don't redshirt many players here at Notre Dame because they finish their degree prior to their eligibility being completed, so generally they move on into the workforce or they go to the NFL. It doesn't really -- it doesn't make sense for us to redshirt a lot of guys. Consequently, by coming in early, they get the opportunity to get a full spring under their belt and are more prepared, so when we play them as true freshmen, they've got that spring.

Mid-year enrollees -- and again, we don't put any pressure on them. It's really a choice if they want to give up senior prom and things of that nature, we'll certainly provide them the opportunity here. But we're doing it more and more here at Notre Dame for that purpose.

Q. To look at DeShone Kizer and what you can say about as he moves forward in this draft, what you took away from him as a coach, what you see about his leadership and his ability at the next level.
BRIAN KELLY: Well, I thought he really started to come on midway through the season when he felt more comfortable in the starting role. You know, at the start of the season, we were playing two quarterbacks, and I think once we got to the bye week, he really started to exhibit the kind of leadership skills that that quarterback position demands. So he was starting to really take hold, and that's why it would have been great to have him come back for another year, because we were starting to see those leadership traits really come out on him.

I will tell you he's going to be a great leader in the NFL. You know, he can make all the throws, and he's got a great mind. I mean, he understands the game. You'll never have a problem with him character-wise off the field. Those are all good qualities to have.

Q. And then as far as looking forward at the quarterback situation for you, just what you can say about what you've taken out of the spring from the gentlemen that you have there.
BRIAN KELLY: Well, Brandon Wimbush got all the first-team reps, and we think he's a highly skilled player, nationally recruited, Gatorade Player of the Year in the state of New Jersey, won the state championship, so he's got some pedigree there in terms of winning. Character, outstanding, leadership, outstanding, arm strength, skill set. Now it's just learning, learning all the little intricacies of playing the position, and he's done a really nice job. But you've got to have a couple, and Ian Book from Northern California had a great spring for us, as well, so I think we've got a couple of quarterbacks that are young but definitely on the right track.

Q. Obviously this is getting ready to be a big part of the spring evaluation for recruiting. I'm curious what goes into how many kids you offer scholarships to this spring.
BRIAN KELLY: Well, really there's a lot of factors, right. How many guys have you got committed at a particular position. That's your first factor. So you know, we're pretty much ahead of the game when it comes to 2018. We've already got 12 committed. So that, with how many spots you had originally had available -- we had 20. So with eight spots available, that would obviously dictate how many offers that we would extend.

Secondly, the offers are really twofold. Some of them are offers to begin the process, and others are offers that really are kind of ending the process. In other words, offers to kind of get in the game, if you will, and offers that are coming from me that are committable. There's two kind of offers there when you talk about offers at this time of the year.

Again, to give you an exact number, it really depends on how many you've got committed and how many spots you have available.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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